Before anyone starts thinking I actually got approached by an actual publisher for any of my self-published love stories, or any other reason, this post isn’t serious. This is meant to be a lighthearted post about a fond memory with my son as we’re coming up on Mother’s Day in a strange time in history.
The Boy is getting ready to finish the sixth grade. He’s headed full speed toward teenagerhood, and he’s (we checked) four entire inches taller than me now. And he’s starting to grow a mustache. I mean ‘the talk’ with J and J teaching him how to shave are like…looming around the very next bend. But I don’t mourn any of this. My son is growing into a caring and intelligent and thoughtful young man. I’m proud of him. And I only like him MORE the older he gets. That’s not to say I didn’t love The Boy when he was Very Small. He’s always been pretty damn cool if I do say so myself. And when he was a first grader, he gave me my first writing contract. (See? No ‘real’ writing contracts…but I fulfilled this one anyway…for reasons I hope are at least implied if not explicitly explained).
The Boy has always known I make up stories. And I love reading and watching the stories other people write. So as a just-turned-7 first grader, he hopped off the afternoon school bus one day and said, ‘Mom? Write me a book while I’m at school tomorrow.’
I told him I’d sure give it a shot, but I usually didn’t make up stories for kids, and the creative process sometimes can’t be scheduled. He said he’d be forgiving about the deadline. (“I mean it’s okay if it takes you like a week or something. I know writing books is hard…”)
So I did write him a book. Not only because I like writing and because he was excited and wanted me to, but I because I wanted him to know that when I say I’m going to do something, I actually do it. And it’s important to actually do what you commit to doing. And I hoped it taught him a lesson about setting up boundaries and reasonable expectations for results when someone asks something of you. Like…don’t just do anything anyone asks of you because they want it; even if it’s something you like for someone you love. I like writing love stories. I love J. If he asked me to write him a novel and have it done by Friday, there’s no way.
And I particularly wanted to demonstrate those things…integrity and communication and realistic limits, even with people you love and things you love…because those are things I definitely wasn’t taught as a girl through example by my parents. My folks made a lot of empty, thoughtless promises. They didn’t have much follow through. They’re hostile communicators who hold a lot of unsaid and constantly shifting expectations, but just because those expectations were unsaid and shifting didn’t mean they wouldn’t get concretely and loudly upset with whoever didn’t meet them. And my mother in particular believes that any person who limits a request she makes of them, or especially a person who outright tells her ‘no’ about something means that person doesn’t love her. She doesn’t allow boundaries and love to co-exist.
I finished my son’s commissioned story in 3 days.
I made a construction paper cover and bound it with staples after printing it out and cutting and pasting the text onto cut construction paper pages. I illustrated it myself with his crayons (I’m not a talented visual artist by any stretch of the imagination, but I tried).
I wanted my son to know that I took him seriously, and I really did my best to make him something he wanted. I didn’t half-ass it. That was another lesson I kind of wanted to teach him, even if it was inadvertently and covertly. If you’re gonna do it? Do it the best you can. Maybe someday I’ll take photos of ALL the crude drawings I made and post the whole story up here, or maybe I’ll even send it off somewhere to be published.
After all…my commissioner liked it. He read it in one sitting and gave me my first and BEST book review (no offense to anyone else who’s reviewed something I wrote that they’ve read…I appreciate every piece of feedback I’ve received…public and private). In case it’s not clear from the last (poorly) illustrated page up there ^^^^, here’s a close up…
Concise, but handwritten and heartfelt, nonetheless. 😉
I love that kid. I’m lucky to be his mom. And I appreciate this review of the first story I ever really wrote for somebody else to read and leave open to judge.
If you’ve read a story of mine and liked it, please consider reviewing it on the sale site. That’s how sales are driven. I don’t pay a marketing team or to formally advertise my work. I only write the stories I feel I need to tell and depend on the word of mouth of satisfied readers to widen my audience. Thank you to everyone who has reviewed and does review my work. You make me a better writer.